As women lighten up, men follow suit on New York's runways

Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:57pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Taking a cue from the women's lines which command center stage at New York's Fashion Week, looks for men waxed casual, hewing towards leisure and athletic wear, with an emphasis on colors and patterns.

The perennial poor relation of women's high fashion, menswear is nonetheless gaining momentum, as well as market share, in the high-stakes retail business, analysts say. Men's interest in clothing and personal style is growing and they continue to move toward shopping for themselves, they say.

Sales of menswear are projected to grow some 14 percent a year, or nearly double the pace of luxury women's wear, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

And men are studying up as they spread their fashion wings.

"Men are spending more time online and learning about dressing," said Tom Julian, author and retail trends expert. "As a result, look for lifestyle options - head-to-toe concepts and brands that are distinct and unique."

Tim Bess, men's fashion trend analyst for retail consultants, the Doneger Group, said menswear was gaining momentum "in a refined, casual, modern way."

Such experts taking stock of the collections showing at New York's Fashion Week, which runs through until Thursday, pointed to a wealth of prints, colors and unstructured tailoring as hallmarks of the spring 2013 looks.

"The athletic leisure look which has taken hold is now really taking off," said Bess. Shorts are worn with blazers, and jackets no longer mandate a collared shirt.   Continued...

A model presents a creation during the Michael Kors Spring/Summer 2013 collection show at New York Fashion Week September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri